the b-HCG test confirms and monitors a pregnancy. It also identifies ectopic pregnancy. The b-HCG test is a hormone test as b-HCG is a hormone that forms during pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancy is harmful to health as in this condition, the egg gets stuck inside the fallopian tubes. b-HCG testing is a part of panels that screen for any abnormalities in the fetus. Moreover, it is used to screen women for pregnancy before they can receive certain medical treatments. The b-HCG test also helps monitor health after a miscarriage. Labwork360 provides b-HCG test in Houston and also mobile phlebotomy services for it so it is convenient for everyone to order at-home specimen collection and get the diagnostic tests.
HCG is synthesized by the cells in the developing placenta. HCG could be identified in the blood samples 11 days after pregnancy. The count of HCG continues to increase every 48-72 hours and they are maximum after 8-11 weeks of pregnancy. After that, the HCG levels start to drop and reach a steady level for the remaining duration.
The b-HCG test identifies pregnancy, ectopic pregnancy, a failing pregnancy, and the age of the fetus. It also determines the risk of a miscarriage, and screens for down syndrome too. Moreover, the b-HCG test is used to monitor pregnancy if any medication or medical treatment could potentially harm a fetus. b-HCG is also secreted by certain types of tumors. So, the HCG test is also to manage and evaluate specific cancers. HCG levels increase in cases of ovarian cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, and cancer of the uterus (choriocarcinoma). Moreover, HCG levels tend to increase in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), ulcers, and cirrhosis. So, the b-HCG test is also prescribed along with other tests to detect the reasons for specific symptoms of the aforementioned health problems. The b-HCG test does not take much time and it uses a urine sample or a blood sample.
The primary purpose of the HCG test seems to be pregnancy confirmation, but the HCG blood test can also be used to diagnose testicular cancer in men. However, the presence of HCG in the blood does not confirm testicular cancer and more tests are necessary to identify the reason.
For a urine test, it is compulsory to not drink large quantities of fluid before submitting a sample, as dilute urine may give incorrect results in the b-HCG test, a false negative. But there isn’t any preparation required for the b-HCG blood test.
Ectopic pregnancy can also be asymptomatic. However, some common symptoms of this condition are low back pain, cramping, or pain in the pelvis. An untreated ectopic pregnancy worsens into vomiting, flu, fever, sharp and sudden pain in the pelvic area, low blood pressure, pain in the shoulders, weakness, faintness, and dizziness. The ectopic pregnancy area could rupture and begin to bleed. If it remains undiagnosed, then it could lead to death and cardiac arrest.
Ectopic pregnancy causes the blood level to rise at a slower rate than normal. Generally, the HCG count doubles every 48 to 72 hours during the initial 4 weeks of a normal pregnancy. Further, the rise in the HCG count slows down and it doubles every 96 hours by 6 weeks. Patients having failing pregnancies often have prolonged doubling time earlier. Their HCG levels may even fall during the doubling time. After a miscarriage, there is a significant drop in HCG levels.
Negative results in the b-HCG test indicate a low probability of pregnancy. If the test takes place in the early stages of pregnancy, before the HCG could reach a significant level, the results of the test are false-negative. If the probability of pregnancy is more, then this test is repeated twice a week. A positive result of the HCG test indicates pregnancy. Still, it is possible to get a false positive in the test results if the individual takes any hormone supplements.
High HCG levels indicate a potential miscalculation in the date of pregnancy, multiple pregnancies, or a molar pregnancy. Multiple pregnancies are the condition in which two fetuses develop at the same time. In-vitro fertilization can also cause multiple pregnancies. Molar pregnancy results in the formation of a noncancerous tumor, and not a healthy placenta. Such a state is called a molar pregnancy.
Normal HCG levels in non-pregnant women measure below 10 mlU per milliliter. Abnormal HCG levels could be because of an incorrectly calculated date of pregnancy, a risk of blighted ovum or miscarriage, and an ectopic pregnancy. High HCG levels could mean multiple pregnancies or molar pregnancies. HCG levels can also get high due to marijuana smoking.
The HCG test is not sufficient to diagnose cancer. If an HCG test suggests the presence of a cancerous tumor, then the healthcare practitioner prescribes further tests to confirm the initial diagnosis.
Low HCG levels do not always mean a risk to the health of the developing fetus. It is possible to have a healthy baby even when the HCG levels measure below the normal range during pregnancy.
HCG levels measure lower than normal in case of an ectopic pregnancy. In such a condition, the physician also prescribes a test to measure progesterone levels. Progesterone levels are low in an ectopic pregnancy.
The time of the day for the test and dehydration could affect the results of the b-HCG urine test. But the b-HCG test that uses blood samples is more accurate. It provides accurate results even when the HCG levels are low. Specific medications, including the ones containing HCG, can affect the outcomes of the test. These medications include fertility drugs, including Pergonal, Pregnyl, and Profasi. Marijuana smoking and germ tumor cells can also alter the results of the b-HCG test.
The quantity of HCG in the sample indicates the type of abnormality so it is essential to measure it. HCG is not present in the urine of non-pregnant women, so urine tests are generally sufficient to identify pregnancy. Thus, pregnancy testing requires a qualitative HCG test. A quantitative HCG test precisely measures the HCG levels, so it is used to diagnose an ectopic pregnancy too. It also monitors health after a miscarriage.
HCG levels in the blood tend to decrease at the same pace as the HCG levels in the urine. This takes about 9-35 days, with a 19-day median. The time it takes for the HCG levels to decrease enough to give a negative result depends on the HCG levels immediately after a miscarriage. Thus, a quantitative HCG test is used to monitor miscarriages.
False positive means that the test incorrectly diagnosed the presence of a disease or abnormality when it was not present in actuality. The use of certain drugs such as anticonvulsants, diuretics, anti-anxiety medications, antihistamines, tranquilizers, hypnotics, and anti-Parkinson drugs can show false positive results in the b-HCG test. False positives can also result from proteinuria and hematuria. Proteinuria is the state in which proteins start to show in the urine. Hematuria occurs when blood appears in the urine. Other reasons for false positives could be the presence of parts of the HCG molecule or specific antibodies in the urine. The HCG molecule is a part of such antibodies.
The HCG test that uses a blood sample is more accurate than the one that uses a urine sample. This is the reason a blood test follows the urine HCG test, to exclude the possibility of a false negative.
Other names for the b-HCG test are the beta-HCG blood test, quantitative blood pregnancy test, quantitative serial beta-HCG test, quantitative HCG blood test, and repeat the quantitative beta-HCG test.
Ectopic pregnancy affects 1 in 50 individuals in the USA.
Labwork360 is a licensed medical diagnostic testing laboratory providing all types of medical diagnostic tests. Getting a b-HCG test in Houston is now more convenient as we also provide mobile phlebotomy services. Our lab provides at-home specimen collection/mobile phlebotomy service for almost all diagnostic tests so people can call us to visit them to collect the specimens for the tests. For more information on diagnostic tests, please visit our website or consult with us on our helpline.